Tag Archives: Womens Rights

How COVID-19 Is Disproportionately Affecting Vulnerable Groups And Why You Should Care

Over the last little while it has felt like the world has been flipped on its head. A virus unbeknownst to the world up until a few months ago has rapidly spread and has caused calamity and devastation in nearly every region of the world. At the time I am writing this, there are over 1,500,000 COVID-19 cases worldwide and there have been over 90,000 lives lost.

I have had many opportunities to reflect over the past few weeks and I have felt nothing but gratitude for the health and safety of my family and friends during this time of fear and uncertainty. I have so much compassion and admiration for everyone working tirelessly on the front lines during this pandemic to save lives and flatten the curve. I am in awe of all of the doctors, nurses, paramedics, scientists, and food and grocery store workers.

The effects of the virus have been felt hard by everyone on this planet, regardless of gender, age, ability, and socio-economic status. At the end of the day we are all human and no amount of wealth or power will make you immune to the virus. However, it is important to understand that there are some groups of people who have been disproportionately impacted by the virus in ways that are not so black and white.

Women and girls

Why the Coronavirus Outbreak Could Hit Women Hardest | Time

Although it is true that men represent a higher percentage of the positive cases and deaths from the virus, the unfortunate reality is that women and girls across the world are actually bearing the brunt of this pandemic in many  different ways. 

Women make up the majority of healthcare workers such as nurses and doctors who are working tirelessly on the front lines and are putting themselves at risk in order to combat this virus. Not only is the physical health and safety of many women at risk, many are also at high economic risk. In Canada, women make up 59% of minimum wage workers in bars, restaurants, and retail businesses which have been hit extremely hard. Women who were already facing the gender pay gap are being hit even harder by the economic fallout of this pandemic.

COVID-19 has now forced schools to close in 185 countries around the world, and when we look at what happened after the Ebola crisis, we can predict that there will be many harsh consequences for women and girls now. For example, it is likely that there will be higher instances of sexual abuse, that girls will be married off as the livelihoods of families are lost, and that many girls will not return to school once they reopen. In addition, during a pandemic all of a country’s health care system is devoted to reducing the spread and treating those who are sick. This often results in sexual and reproductive health care being neglected, and many girls and women will lack access to family planning, menstrual health and maternal health resources. The harsh reality is that during times of emergency and chaos, girls are often the ones who lose the most, and governments and policy makers must consider how we can alleviate these injustices. 

Another consequence of isolation that is being observed all across the world is a rise in domestic violence. As families are forced to isolate and stay home, many women are stuck in situations where violence is becoming more frequent and dangerous. This is yet another serious public health crisis that governments must address to ensure that women are safe and able to escape dangerous circumstances.

People with disabilities

Coronavirus restrictions put extra burden on the blind community ...

Around the world approximately 1 billion people live with some kind of disability and many of these individuals already suffer from weakened immune systems or chronic illnesses that put them at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19 and dealing with severe consequences from the virus. Self-isolation and social distancing can pose many challenges for individuals with disabilities as many require care around the clock in order to assist them with their day to day living. Many also rely on programs, group homes, nursing homes and other institutional services and it is difficult to keep everyone safe in these circumstances during a pandemic. We cannot leave these individuals behind and support must be put in place to ensure that those who are vulnerable have access to the care they require. Another consideration that needs to be made to support people living with disabilities during this time is to ensure that all information and news is accessible to everyone. This includes using sign language, captioning, text messages and more to ensure that everyone is able to access essential public health information.

People who are homeless

Coronavirus and the homeless: Why they're especially at risk, ways ...

Although being forced to stay at home is hard and most certainly a major inconvenience, many of us take for granted that we actually have a home to isolate ourselves in. On any given night in Canada alone there are approximately 35,000 Canadians living on the streets. These individuals are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 since many experience tri-morbidity: the co-existence of mental, physical and addiction issues. In order to combat COVID-19 the government and public health officials are encouraging Canadians to use proper hygiene and practice social distancing by staying home as much as possible and staying 6 ft apart from people. This is not feasible for people who are homeless and it is crucial that these individuals are considered when decisions and policies are made. Some areas have begun turning community centres, hotels and other vacant buildings into emergency housing for these people but more must be done to deal with this situation. It is crucial that homelessness is seen as a priority when tackling this pandemic and solutions must be put in place quickly.

People with mental illness

Protect Your Mental Health While Practicing Social Distancing ...

Another group that is being particularly impacted by social distancing and self isolation are those who struggle with mental illness. Many mental illnesses such as anxiety, depression and eating disorders thrive in isolation and being forced to stay inside can exacerbate a problem that is already debilitating. The suicide rate in the United States has been rising every year for the past twenty years and it is scary to think about how this pandemic will affect that. While it is crucial to address the physical toll that the coronavirus is taking on our world, we also need to take action to prevent a different public health crisis from emerging. Canada’s Public Health Agency has many resources for identifying and managing the physical symptoms of coronavirus, but what about the mental health side effects that so many are experiencing? It is essential that more resources are made available for Canadians who are struggling during these uncertain and stressful times.


Below is a list of resources and helplines so that you or anyone you know who is in need can find help and support should you need it.

  • Health concerns:
    • If you are concerned you may have symptoms of COVID-19 you can call Telehealth Ontario to get medical advice at 1-866-797-0000
  • Domestic violence:
    • If you are in immediate danger or fear for your safety, please CALL 911.
    • To view a national list of transition houses, and to find a shelter in your area, please visit this link 
    • This link provides a list of specific resources and centres for each province
  • Mental health support
    •  If you need immediate support, Kids Help Phone is always there for you 24/7 from anywhere in Canada, via phone or text
    • This link from Jack.org provides a list of online resources for youth mental health support during COVID-19
    • Crisis Services Canada provides 24/7 support that can be found at this link
  • Homelessness
    • If you are a youth (age 16­-24) who urgently needs a safe place to sleep, call Youth Without Shelter’s emergency shelter at 416.748.0110. Press 0.

It is clear that there are many groups of people around the world who are particularly suffering the consequences of COVID-19. It is so crucial that more action is taken to address these concerns to ensure that everyone is able to access the care and resources they need during these extremely challenging times.

My heart goes out to everyone struggling during this time – please stay safe and healthy! ♡

– Diviya

2017 – The Best and Worst Year for Women’s Rights

This past year was a true roller coaster filled with a combination of devastating lows and triumphant highs for women’s rights and social justice. There were undeniably moments of great despair when progress seemed to be retreating instead of moving forward. However, there were also some major wins for the feminist movement that I believe are worth celebrating.

The Inauguration of President Donald Trump:


2017 was off to a rocky start with the inauguration of US President Donald Trump – an openly sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, and misogynistic man. He is someone who has proudly bragged about sexual assault and belittled women innumerable times with his obnoxious words and distasteful tweets. Although Trump’s election campaign claimed to “Make America Great Again,” it was clear to me and the rest of the feminist movement that his words and actions were rooted in fear, hatred, and discrimination. On January 20, 2017, this man was handed the keys to the most powerful office in the world on a silver platter. After seeing my worst fear come to life as Donald Trump was indeed inaugurated as President, I knew in my heart that his reign would have grim consequences for women in the United States and around the world.

The Women’s March:

Only one day after his inauguration, millions of women and their allies took to the streets in a worldwide protest against hatred, fear, and discrimination. The 2017 Women’s March was a historic show of solidarity and unity in the face of extreme adversity.

A reported 5 million people walked in 673 marches on all seven continents around the world to advocate for better policies and attention to be placed on human rights issues including women’s rights, reproductive rights, LGBTQIA rights, and environmental justice. I never felt prouder to call myself a woman than on January 21st, 2017 – it made my heart burst to see both women and men coming together and using their anger as a catalyst for peace and change. The 2017 Women’s March served as a strong reminder to the world that when a community of people from all different backgrounds and experiences come together with a unified message of love and hope, real change happens.

The #MeToo Movement:

me too

Related imageThe #MeToo movement was born in 2006 when civil rights activist Tarana Burke founded Just Be Inc, a program to support and empower young victims of sexual violence who live in marginalized communities. Tarana Burke is currently the Senior Director at Girls for Gender Equity, and her work has focused heavily on ensuring that women of colour whose voices have been silenced in the past are truly heard.

In October of 2017, Tarana Burke’s movement began gaining more attention when celebrity Alyssa Milano asked her followers on Twitter who had experienced sexual assault to respond with the simple hashtag – #metoo. The hashtag quickly went viral worldwide as millions of women began raising their voices and sharing the stories that they have kept hidden away for years. During this time many celebrities began opening up on social media including Lady Gaga, Reese Witherspoon, Viola Davis, and Ellen DeGeneres, just to name a few. As the movement garnered more international attention, many allegations were made against numerous celebrities who have since been fired. This helped start important conversations about sexual harassment and abuse in many areas and industries including Hollywood, the music industry, and the world of politics. In my own life, it was very eye-opening for me to see such large numbers of people sharing their stories on social media. This truly showed me the magnitude of these issues and the power that we have to come together as a community in a show of resistance.

The #MeToo movement truly evolved to unite women of diverse backgrounds who have shared experiences of sexual misconduct, harassment, and assault. Although this movement has helped to start these new conversations, I also think that is important to recognize and understand how this movement was created and what it is rooted in. It is crucial that these conversations are inclusive of everyone, especially women of colour, and not just focused on the stories of white women in positions of privilege and power. While these stories deserve to be heard, it is equally important that our conversations are welcoming and recognize the diverse backgrounds and experiences that each woman comes from. 


The Silence Breakers:


On December 6, 2017, The Silence Breakers, were named as Time’s Person of the Year to recognize the profound impact that this movement has had on the world. This title referred to all of the women who have shared their stories and have helped to break down the stigma and silence surrounding sexual abuse. I was thrilled to see such brave, strong, and resilient women receive this title, and I believe that their courage to stand up in the face of adversity is truly remarkable.

2018 – Time’s Up:

time's up

On January 1st, 2018, a new campaign was launched with an ambitious goal of raising $15 million to fund legal support for victims of sexual harassment, assault, and abuse in the workplace. A unified call to action was made in a “solidarity letter” written on behalf of more than 300 women from different industries in the workforce. The campaign has been backed by many influential actresses including Emma Watson, Reese Witherspoon, and Natalie Portman. This campaign has already nearly reached its target, and has the power to continue to amplify the impact that the Women’s March and the #MeToo movement had in 2017.

Although this year held many challenges and setbacks for women’s rights, I am very proud of how far the feminist movement has come and the path that is on now. I am very optimistic about the future of women’s rights, and I know that if we can continue to come together united in our goals, we will be able to make gender equality a reality.

On January 20th and 21st of this year, women and men will come together again in the 2018 Women’s March to celebrate what we have achieved so far, and to recognize the obstacles that still need to overcome.

This year, I will be marching in the Women’s March to show my support and passion for women’s rights – will YOU be joining me?

Thanks for joining me on my journey to change the world!



What do you REALLY REALLY want?

Do you want an end to violence against girls, quality education for all girls, an end to child marriage, or equal pay for equal work?

It has proven time and time again that empowering and supporting girls and women is key to tackling global issues. The Sustainable Development goals are a list of 169 targets to achieve globally by 2030. These goals aim to preserve our environment, eradicate climate change, and reduce inequalities. World leaders promised to put girls and women first when they agreed to support the Sustainable Development Goals in 2015. In order to ensure that they keep their promise, it is vital for us to raise our voices so loud that they have to listen.

Yesterday, the Global Goals came out with a new parody of the Spice Girls’ hit song “Wannabe”, highlighting a few of the issues that girls and women face around the world. From the United Kingdom to South Africa and India, the video shows the diversity and potential of girls globally.

I believe that this video has a powerful message that has the potential to reach millions. In the media it is often portrayed that all girls “really really want” is beauty, boys, and money. However, as this campaign clearly proves we strive for so much more than that. We have big dreams that we are putting into action and we are seeing change happen as a result. Our dreams include ending gender based violence, solving climate change, and equal pay for equal work, just to name a few. We are intelligent, we are powerful, and we will stop at nothing to see our dreams in action.

Share a picture on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook of yourself holding up what YOU really, really want for girls and women with the hashtag #WhatIReallyReallyWant!

If we raise our voices our messages will be shared with world leaders at the UN in September.

global goals


“Girl power has come a long way, let’s take it further!”

Thanks for joining me on my journey to change the world!

-Diviya 🙂

Words Matter. Raise your voice. Tell a girl she can!


This upcoming Tuesday, March 8th, is International Women’s Day! It is a day to celebrate what we have achieved so far in terms of women’s equality, and to recognize what still needs to be accomplished.

In celebration of the day, the initiative Because I am a Girl created a video profiling the stories of different women in Canada. The video recognized all the degrading things that women are told that bring them down. Some examples include “You must have enticed him in some way,” and “You’re not ugly enough to be as smart as you are.” These phrases are pushing women down and telling them they are not capable of achieving greatness. But in my opinion, your gender does not determine your worth, strength, or capabilities. You are powerful no matter what.

As a member of the Because I am a Girl Speakers Bureau, I had the honour of participating in this video. My line in the video was “Great, just another angry feminist.” This is something that I have been told, and it is not right. Being a feminist is something to be proud of, not something to be shamed for.

You can check out the video below:

So, what can YOU do?

#1: Share – Post the link to this video on social media to share with all of your family and friends.

#2: Tweet with #LiftHerUp – On Twitter or Facebook share a message of strength and positivity for all girls everywhere. For every tweet, Scotiabank will donate $1 to a maximum of $30 000 to Plan Canada’s Because I am a Girl initiative.

#2: Celebrate International Women’s Day! – On March 8th, spread the word, and take action to make sure all women feel lifted up. Also, if you happen to be near the Eaton Centre stop by to see a 3D hologram of a girl that will be lifted up by all of the #LiftHerUp messages!

“It’s time to send women and girls the RIGHT message!”

Thanks for joining me on my journey to change the world!


Dear Baby Girl: A Spoken Word Poem

Recently, a fellow member of the Because I am a Girl Speakers Bureau named Nirosha attended Free The Children’s Take Action Camp. The energy at camp was so inspiring that she wrote a spoken-word poem called ‘Dear Baby Girl’ and presented it at the talent show on the last night. Nirosha’s words are so incredibly powerful and really make you think about the huge issue of gender inequality. Please like, comment, subscribe and share this video with all your friends and your family.